Sometimes it's all about the timing.

Ours is an unlikely love story...

One that almost never happened, and took us THREE times to get right.

I don't remember how it was that we met, other than knowing it was through a mutual friend. Maybe it was at a house party, or on a Friday night for Cosmic Bowling.

However it was that we came together, it happened in 2000... for the first time.

Drawn to one another, we casually started to date. And during that time, Erik told me about a favorite memory of his... something about admiring a friend who had worked with snow leopards, and having gotten the chance to be close to them, himself.  

So I drew THIS for him, as a gift for his birthday.

snow leopard pencil drawing by Michelle Simmons of The Suitcase Studio

We didn't date for much longer, but went back to being friends. 

And little did I know that that this had become a treasured possession of his... and one which he'd always kept out in view.

And NOW, after all these years... this drawing is proudly displayed in OUR living room.

HERE WE ARE on New Year's Eve of 2001...

At our friend Mark's house and playing a game of Jenga Truth or Dare, and "dared" to rub noses. (Many thanks to whomever picked up the camera to snap this moment for me!)

ours is an unlikley love story - The Suitcase Studio - photographer in bend oregon

We were only friends at that time, but there always seemed to be some kind of pull between the two of us. 

Not too long after New Years, while I group of us were hanging out and swapping stories, I confessed that I'd never been given a dozen red roses.

And the very next day, I awoke to find a long gold box on my doorstep... containing a dozen long-stemmed red roses, and a note which simply said "Never?"

And soon after that, we began to date again.

And, being the sentimental fool that I am, I've kept that note tucked away in a photo album for all these years. 

ours is an unlikely love story - The Suitcase Studio in Bend Oregon

But like the first time, we simply didn't last very long together as a couple. I don't think we ever even made things official.

Tale as old as time... Much as we liked each other, we were in different places in our lives, wanted different things, yada yada yada...

But still, we remained friends. 

And he's just always been there. Someone I've always instantly "clicked" with, no matter how much time had passed. And being able to pick right back up where we'd left off, no matter if it had been days, months or years that had passed since we'd last seen one another.

You know... the way it is with great friends and family.

And looking back, it feels like we've always just BEEN there in each other's lives. Maybe there were no big fireworks or dramatic moments between us, but he's been a constant. Sometimes as a main character, other times in a supporting role, and even just as a background character.

But time marches on, changing our direction and our selves.  

He moved. I got married.

And time, and our lives, continued. 

But sometimes things just don't work out the way you thought they would, and 12 years later I was once again single.  

And craving an adventure. 

And having found one another on Facebook, Erik suggested I come up for a visit... as he'd moved from Portland to Bend, and knew I'd LOVE the area.

You've already heard the rest. And if not, I won't bore you with the details... but here it is in a nutshell:   

Bend felt like the place I never realized I'd been looking for... and for the first time in years, I felt myself able to breathe deeply.

I made the bold decision to MOVE to Bend.

And Erik flew down to help me.

He helped me pack, dealt with the movers AND my emotional moments, and even met my parents for the first time. And then he drove us both up to Bend, and it felt like coming home.      

We officially crossed the border into Oregon on April 20, 2015.

So I count that as MY anniversary. In my life, that date signifies the start of this new chapter in my story. My big "before" and "after." 

And as the relationship between Erik and I grew, we decided to make that OUR anniversary, too. Because there was no clear beginning, or dates to easily mark as we transitioned from one level to another. 

So we count April 20 as the start of OUR new chapter, too.

Time passed, and we simply evolved together, in a way that took us both a bit by surprise. Because it all just seemed so natural. Too easy. And too good to be true. 

Because time has a way of changing a person... or maybe just changing them into the person they're MEANT to be... stripping away all the "shoulds" and other things we're taught we're supposed to be and do. Life experiences carve us, like chisel to marble. Cracks form, pieces crumble, and what's left can be absolutely beautiful.

And we found that we simply made sense together, and it simply felt right. We just "got" the other person, sometimes without even saying a word.

We fell in love. 

Maybe it's because we're older now and know OURSELVES better. Enough to know what we want and don't want, to know what we actually need, and know how to ask for it.

We started to feel like family.

We have an amazing partnership unlike anything I've ever known, and complement each other in ways that balance what we "lack" in ourselves. 

We just FIT TOGETHER in a way I can't completely explain, but can FEEL clear through my bones. 

He feels like HOME. 

Happy three year anniversary to us. 

And cheers to the many adventures still to come.

love stories &nbsp;- The Suitcase Studio

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